We left Boise to view the eclipse in Cascade. It was our first camping trip as a family. It went pretty well. Lots of kids to play with. A beautiful location with a lake nearby for swimming. And we were only camping for one night so it was a nice new adventure. The only problem is now the boys want to go camping again so they can see another eclipse.
Category Archives: gallery
Our home base for eclipse viewing. We spent a few days on either side of the event just hanging out. Went out for a wander one day and saw the capitol. Checked out a few parks. Had ice cream—and a real ice cream soda—at a working soda fountain. It was a wonderful way to end our summer.
After Medford and Crater Lake we continued north to Portland. Actually we blew through—or whatever the equivalent of that is which reflects getting stuck in traffic between 2:30 and 4:30—and went to Vancouver for another couple of nights. Based on the traffic experience we decided against heading back into Portland.
Instead we took a daytrip out to Bonneville Dam. It was wonderful to see the Columbia River Gorge—especially in light of the recent fires—and the dam itself is pretty interesting. First, tons of Ospreys hovering around is pretty spectacular to watch. Also, the displays about all the flood control, hydroelectric, and shipping channel improvements on the river are pretty interesting. I’m used to dams being for drinking water supply and storage purposes but these are different. I had to go and pull up some Carleton Watkins photos later so I could see what the river looked like back when it was all rapids.
And there’s a fish ladder with viewing windows which, in addition to allowing the rangers to count the fish going upstream, was also a lot of fun for the boys to watch while they filled out another junior ranger activity guide.
After lunch in Redding we arrived in Medford. We spent a few nights there and took the opportunity to visit Crater Lake. Our timing was pretty good in that we managed to sneak in after one batch of fires had been contained but before the next batch erupted.
The lake, despite all the haze from the still smoldering fires, is still breathtaking. The water is an unbelievable blue color and the sheer cliffs of the caldera provide a certain giddy thrill to looking out, over, and down upon the lake. Driving around, with the absence of any guard rails along the road, is also an experience.
This was the boy’s first national park and their first opportunity to become junior rangers. They enjoyed the activities and learning about other elements in the park besides just the obvious spectacle of the lake.
We ended our summer by taking a massive road trip to Boise to see the eclipse. The boys are old enough to handle the car trip and we figured we should take the opportunity to stop at some cool places along the way.
The first leg of the trip was going from the Bay Area to Medford. We stopped in Redding for lunch because I figured the Sundial Bridge would be of interest. I haven’t seen it since 2009. It’s not aged particularly well. Still pretty neat but it’s getting kind of grungy in places where—and underneath where—the birds have decided to nest or where the the water drains.
Since Highway 1 was closed at Big Sur we couldn’t make the drive up the Central Coast. Instead we used Morro Bay as a base/hub for driving up 1 and then coming back.
Our main stop was Hearst Castle—another place I hadn’t been to since I was in 4th grade. We just did the standard tour since it was kind of our first time and we felt that seeing the main rooms and getting the official introduction made the most sense. The quality of the tour seems to depend a lot on the guide, thankfully Carson, our guide, was great. Just the right level of detail into how things were collected and manufactured while maintaining the humor and interest that’s naturally part of the celebrity nature of the place.
Against my expectations I really liked it. Heart Castle hits a lot of art stuff I’m typically allergic to. Rich collectors with a collection which is branded by the collectors’ names. Collections displayed as per the collector’s wishes yet masquerading as a museum. Mixing and matching things from all to create a generic sense of culture. But it works here.
This is partly because Hearst’s collecting is very much specific to his taste and doesn’t look like anything else I’ve seen. Especially his fascination with ceilings and choir lofts and the way that he reuses and repurposes them. That the lofts become wainscotting or panelling and the ceilings are reengineered so they both fit rooms and have the structural strength to support chandeliers turns everything into something new.
Hearst uses his collection so rather than being museum pieces for display only, they have an additional life with how they functioned in the castle. Wonderful furniture pieces are repurposed as storage for cigarettes or condiments and while the new function is different, the object has a different life to it. Even the “fakery” works. It’s not exactly making replicas or faking the original objects but rather creating brand new things out of the replicas.
Nothing’s trying to be “authentic.” It’s all just raw material to be remixed into something new and inspired by the originals. This is fun to see and it’s enjoyable to see it as a result of raiding Europe for a change.
A lot of times—specifically with orientalism and primitivism—we see artwork or ideas get raided from non-white countries and turned into Western, “high” art which conjures up an all-look-same myth about the non-Western source cultures. In situations where the audience doesn’t know better that appropriation is indeed something I’m allergic to. Here though, where we know the cultures that are being sampled, the appropriation and remixing is actually fun to see and, rather than being annoyed at the lack of context, I can enjoy seeing the shoe be on the other foot.
But we also drove a bit further and checked out some of the coast. And took a walk to see the Elephant Seals.
We really liked Morro Bay. Since there’s no proper beach, the town, while full of motels for tourists, didn’t feel touristy. Very very different than Santa Barbara. Instead it was small and sleepy with a working fishing industry and a ton of other animals in the bay taking advantage of the seafood as well. We got to eat at small fish restaurants where the proprietor knows the fishermen bringing in the good. It reminded us of how cool Santa Cruz and Monterey used to be with their small funky shops and weird rabbit warren malls before all the chains moved in.